Off to a flying start!

An interview with Chairholder Dr Khayaat Fakier and Postdoctoral Research Dr Agustina Solera on their vision, ideas and work.

As of September 2021, Dr Khayaat Fakier holds the Prince Claus Chair at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) on equity and development. In January 2022 Agustina Solera PhD joined Khayaat as the Postdoctoral Researcher.
What are their upcoming plans and what’s the importance of care in their work.

A warm welcome with commitment and support

In February 2022, Khayaat met Agustina and hosting professor Wendy Harcourt at ISS The Hague. Khayaat: “It felt incredibly welcoming and warm. The visit strengthened the bond that began with our earlier online meetings. Also meeting the Curatorium members was immensely helpful and warm. They were informed about South Africa and its history and I appreciated their strong commitment and political support to my work. I am sure we will develop a meaningful relationship that can be beneficial for our institutions in South Africa and The Netherlands. We hope to be able to create a real, tangible impact.”

Already a team

“My time in The Netherlands solidified the PCC team. When we met at Wendy’s home to have dinner together, we all pitched in. We literally took care of each other”. Khayaat continues: “Our regular meetings over lunch and dinner made me feel like we’ve known each other for years and was helped by our shared focus of the PCC on care.” Agustina adds: “I would like to emphasize that this time has been constructive, as well as productive. In relation to the solid ties that have been built inside PCC (Khayaat, Wendy and I), we have engaged with other networks such as WEGO and universities in the Netherlands such as Wageningen University. While forging these bonds, we have already begun writing collaboratively with two book chapters and a journal article and planning events together with Wendy’s support, and we have further plans for the next two years.”

Khayaat, Wendy and Agustina in The Hague

The importance of ‘care-fully’

The core research focus of the PCC in the next two years is putting care at the centre of equity and development. What are the challenges for gender aware economies based on an ethics of care for people and the environment? Khayaat explains: “Care is a crucial element in engaging with our community. Our movement is about strengthening relationships through care, especially among and between women. We need to be more gentle, more supportive and understanding with one another. Also, in academia.

There’s care involved in every aspect of what we do.”

Dr Khayaat Fakier

That’s why we used the term ‘care-fully’. The multiple meanings encapsulate our vision in the research that we do, both in concept and in practice. On a professional level, this level of engagement is also productive, because it allows for respect and tolerance right from the start.” Agustina points out that it’s not always the easy path. “Academia is in part about dealing with hierarchies. We try to develop a healthy neglect of hierarchy. We recognize the experience and wisdom of younger people. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. The path can be challenging.”

What’s in the works

There are already a lot of activities planned for the upcoming months. The activities in the pipe line are:

  • 4 May 2022 > Khayaat, Wendy  and Agustina are organizing a Seminar at ISS on the 24th of May before the Khayaat’s Inaugural.
  • 16-20 June 2022 > Invitation to the WEGO-ITN and Pangea final event on Gender, environment, and care in Rome.
  • In the second part of 2022,  Khayaat has been invited to give a Public talk and a Masters class at Wageningen University.

Khayaat and Agustina are also involved in writing: Book-chapters for the book “Contours of Feminist Political Ecology” co-edited by Wendy and other members of the WEGO-ITN (ed: The Well-being, Ecology, Gender and cOmmunity Innovative Training Network),  one co-written by Wendy and Khayaat and the other one co-written by Agustina Solera and Mariana Ortecho and an article titled “Feminist Political Ecology and Earthcare: changes in care and gender relations in Argentina and South Africa”, co-written by Khayaat, Wendy and Agustina, for the Journal of Peasant Studies coedited by Wendy with members of the WEGO-ITN.

Facilitating social encounters in different countries

The ideas for the PCC-chairholder ship for now and beyond the tenure are already taking shape. Khayaat: “In the upcoming year and a half we’re going to facilitate social encounters on care for both the human and non-human aspect in our different countries of origin; South Africa, Argentina and Australia. It’s going to be an intra-South colonial and post-colonial conversation, taking into account the complex and rich history of each region. We don’t expect it to be easy, but we are very excited for this chapter.” “This research involves aspects of negotiation, power, authority, respect, authenticity and of course, care. We’ll document our research and reflections in a book.”, says Agustina.

“We’re not starting from scratch, we’re building upon the networks we’ve already established.”

Agustina Solera, PhD

Enduring relationships

The term of the PCC-tenure is not the end of the research. “We’re building enduring relationships. This means we’re also looking for funding for when the PCC tenure ends. There’s care involved in every aspect of what we do. We don’t just ‘mine’ data of these encounters. The notion of care is for us not only an ethical concept, but also a methodology  and a way to engage. Plus, taking care of yourself during these times is of the utmost importance.”
“We intend to not only form enduring relationships with our collaborators, but also with the PCC-family and our community at large!”